centrotherm has introduced a new fast firing furnace tool, c.FIRE for metallization of front and rear contacts of solar cells. It is suited for all common sorts of metallization paste and comes with an integrated and versatile dryer. Emphasis in the design was also placed on a compact footprint and maintenance systems in order to reduce the operating costs for solar cell producers.
Solar cell manufacturers target improved and stable cell performance and narrow distributions of conversion efficiency. Furthermore, the efficient use of limited floor space is of highest importance. Thus, a small and compact high throughput manufacturing tool with precise process control and a robust design is essential.
centrotherm offers c.FIRE as single- and dual-lane furnace with a length of 11.000mm. The furnace consists of a powerful and flexible hot air paste dryer, an updated firing section and a re-engineered, considerably shortened cooling zone. c.FIRE reduces floor space use compared to its established ancestor product (length more than 15m) and most competitor solutions. It is claimed to provide superior processing performance thanks to novel concepts for dryer, firing and cooling sections. The system comes with energy efficient VOC handling (condenser), optional extensions, integrated electrostatic filter and activated-carbon filter.
c.FIRE is used for firing of front-side contact while alloying aluminium backside contact. It handles over-compensation of n+ layer and gettering of metallic impurities and drying of metallization pastes (front- and backside).
The c.FIRE dual-lane configuration is capable of a throughput of up to 3,500 wafers per hour in a modular design. The platform complies to European standards and regulations (CE) and provides a safe and reliable process implementation. In order to improve ease of inspection and maintenance, c.FIRE provides quick and convenient access through glass swing doors. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) treatment was fully integrated into restructured housing, thereby enabling any solvents that are emitted to be fed back on a reliable and energy-efficient basis.